The Philadelphia Story

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The Classical Hollywood style, according to David Bordwell remains “bound by rules that set stringent limits on individual innovation; that telling a story is the basic formal concern.” Every element of the film works in the service of the narrative, which should be ideally comprehensible and unambiguous to the audience. The typical Hollywood film revolves around a protagonist, whose struggle to achieve a specific goal or resolve a conflict becomes the foundation for the story. André Bazin, in his “On the politique des auteurs,” argues that this particular system of filmmaking, despite all its limitations and constrictions, represented a productive force creating commercial art. From the Hollywood film derived transnational and transcultural works of art that evoked spectatorial identification with its characters and emotional investment into its narrative. The Philadelphia Story, directed by George Cukor in 1940, is one of the many works of mass-produced art evolving out of the studio system. The film revolves around Tracy Lord who, on the eve of her second wedding, must confront the return of her ex-husband, two newspaper reporters entering into her home, and her own hubris. The opening sequence of The Philadelphia Story represents a microcosm of the dynamic between the two protagonists Tracy Lord and C.K. Dexter Haven, played by Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant. Through the use of costume and music, the opening sequence operates as a means to aesthetically reveal narrative themes and character traits, while simultaneously setting up the disturbance that must be resolved.
Relying on the conventions of the silent film era, The Philadelphia Story uses “the expository intertitles to convey crucial information” relevant to the...

... middle of paper ...” 19). The broken romance between Tracy and Dexter represents the first plot line, while the moral conflict between Macaulay, Elizabeth and the editorial they have to produce SPY Magazine represents the second. The second plot line is not explicit, however the viewer does receive a clue that the press will play a crucial role in the film. The opening sequence shows “The Philadelphia Story,” which is, later in the plot, the title of the tabloid editorial that SPY Magazine editor Sidney Kidd, played by Henry Daniell, assigns Macaulay and Elizabeth to write and photograph. The audience simultaneously views tabloid piece in the process of creation by Macaulay and Elizabeth, and the finished editorial within the world of the movie. Furthermore, the final image of the movie is one of a candid shot of the wedding taken by Sidney Kidd, which appears in the tabloid piece.

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